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Other SportsVerstappen foresees 'awkward' final year at Mercedes for Hamilton

Verstappen foresees ‘awkward’ final year at Mercedes for Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton’s impending move to Ferrari will make things “a little bit awkward” during his final year with Mercedes, believes rival Max Verstappen.

Earlier this month, Hamilton shocked Formula One fans by confirming he will join Ferrari for the 2025 season, having activated a break clause in the two-year contract extension he signed with Mercedes last year.

The seven-time world champion has cut a frustrated figure in the last couple of years, failing to win a race since 2021 as Mercedes battled reliability issues with their W13 and W14 cars.

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Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff recently said he understood Hamilton’s decision to leave and would hold no grudge against him, but Verstappen foresees some difficulties for Mercedes in 2024.

With Hamilton preparing to join the team Mercedes edged out for second in the constructors’ standings last year, the reigning world champion says some information will have to be withheld from the 39-year-old.

“At the end of the day, seeing him go to Ferrari is not a surprise,” Verstappen told reporters on Friday. “If that’s your goal as a kid or your dream, then you go, right?

“The only thing for me was that it seemed like it was leaked and then they had to announce it. To announce something that big early in the season… I think the rest of the year is a little bit awkward.

“Even though you have had a lot of success together as a team, you can’t be included in everything anymore.

“He has a great relationship with everyone, especially with Toto. But he also knows at some point, Toto will tell him, ‘I’m sorry, we’ve had all this success, but you can’t be part of certain meetings anymore’.

“That’s normal in F1 and it’s probably a bit weird, but you’re professional enough to deal with that. It’s not like they are suddenly enemies or whatever.

“He has achieved so many great things with that team and they are still behind him, it’s just you know at some point you can’t just share certain stuff.

“But once he is sitting in the car, they will still go flat out for him to try and win races.”

Mercedes launched their new car for 2024, the W15, on Wednesday. The new F1 campaign begins on March 2 with the Bahrain Grand Prix, where Hamilton will target a record-extending sixth win.

Harry Carr
Harry Carr
Harry is a freelance sports journalist with experience of working for the Racing Post, Stats Perform, Opta Analyst and more, covering major events across all sports but holding a particular love for the beautiful game.
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